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Dickinson College updates on Spring 2021

Week of January 4, 2021

Update on Spring Semester

January 6, 2021

To our Dickinson community: 

As we welcome 2021, we have renewed hope that the COVID vaccines will mean a return to a more normal living—and learning—experience for all of us, and soon. While COVID cases are spiking across the country, and our own Cumberland County positivity rate reached its highest level ever last month, we know that the end of this long siege is in sight. Please continue to take the steps needed to help control this virus as we look eagerly toward brighter days ahead.

Recently, Pennsylvania’s health and education agencies have recommended that colleges and universities delay students’ return to campus. Based on those recommendations, and on the high positivity rate in Cumberland County, we are adjusting our reopening plans as follows:

  • All classes will begin January 25 as scheduled. However, all classes will be offered remotely for the first two weeks of the semester.
  • Students who planned to return to campus only for the first seven weeks of the semester will be permitted to move in at their previously scheduled time before January 25. Students employed by residence life, international students and those students who were on campus in the fall may also move in at this time.
  • However, students who planned to return to campus in January and stay through May will be required to delay their move-in dates to February 5 through 7. Further instructions will be sent to these students.
  • Semester bills and need-based financial aid, if applicable, will be pro-rated for those students who will be returning to campus two weeks later than originally planned.

We have made these adjustments in order to protect the health and safety of our community.

We have planned extensively for our students’ return. Everyone on campus will be required to wear face coverings, adhere to physical distancing guidelines, and wash hands regularly. 

Please remember that we will be implementing a rigorous testing process. Students must complete a test that we will send them before they come to campus. Once on campus, we will test students upon arrival and twice a week. In addition, we have set aside special housing for any students who test positive for the virus. We will also have an individual on campus who will be responsible for contact tracing.

In addition, everyone on campus must download the COVID Alert PA app on their phones and must fill out the symptoms tracker in the Gateway every day. Flu shots are also required except for those individuals who have a documented exemption. The Reopening Dashboard contains extensive information and resources, and I encourage you to spend time reviewing that information.

Ours is a resilient community. We know how to work together to overcome challenges. With everyone’s continued support and cooperation, we can be back on campus and we can begin to return to greater normalcy. We are relying on each member of our community to act responsibly, to work together, and to keep all of us—students, faculty and staff—safe, to keep us Dickinson strong.


Margee M. Ensign